(Medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)
15 Ways to Light Up Your Androgen Receptors
Increase androgen receptor sensitivity and density. This should be at the top of every mans bucket list.
As a matter of fact…
Testosterone replacement or any other form of androgen replacement has no business even being discussed until this has been dealt with first.
Because when you have adequate sensitivity and density, your body utilizes the androgens you already have with maximum efficiency.
So that lab report showing only 500 ng/dl of testosterone may be totally adequate because your body is putting those deciliters to very good use.
Conversely, if you have weak sensitivity…
Artificially jacking that 500 number up with TRT could backfire on you because your receptors are not prepared to deal with the onslaught.
Once this happens, your body will take all that underutilized testosterone and convert it into estrogen.
This explains why TRT often backfires on a man, because once you go down this path…
Your low testosterone now has two traveling buddies that go by the names of high estrogen and testicular atrophy.
A situation that has clearly made your situation worse.
Increase Androgen Receptor Sensitivity & Density (My Experience)
Without even knowing it, I began a quest 15 years ago to maximize the efficiency of my androgen receptors.
A testosterone test that came in showing numbers below 300 ng/dl was my motivating factor.
And fortunately for me…
I stumbled on to three of the most effective ways to fire up my receptors without even knowing it.
- I started running sprints
- I started intermittent fasting
- I started lifting weights using compound movements
And the result?
Within 6 months, my incipient gynecomastia had disappeared, my balls got bigger, my gut got smaller and I got jacked.
In other words, my androgen receptors increased in number and sensitivity and my body made a radical shift in only 180 days.
A shift from a feminine fat distribution, small testicles and man-boobs to a dude who looked and acted like a dude.
And I accomplished all of this without filling a script or waiting in line at Walgreens even once.
Androgen Receptor Studies
At the time, I didn’t know exactly what had happened, I just knew that what had happened was good.
Until 2018 that is, when I read a study that revolutionized the way I looked at androgens.
In this study, published in the Frontiers in Physiology Journal, the scientists took a group men who all had weight training experience.
Then they put them through a rigorous 12 week weight lifting regiment.
Then each man was put into one of two groups:
Group 1 = High responders
Group 2 = Low responders
Or put another way, easy gainers and hard gainers.
Now here’s the punch line…
Testing the mens hormones levels, including DHT, IGF-1, dehydroepiandrosterone, total and Free testosterone confirmed that the numbers didn’t matter.
What did matter was the condition of the mens androgen receptors.
“These results indicate that intramuscular androgen receptor content, but neither circulating nor intramuscular hormones influenced skeletal muscle hypertrophy following resistance training in previously trained men. (source)”
The total level of circulating hormones was NOT the factor that determined whether or not these guys got jacked.
It was the quality, number and sensitivity of their androgen receptors that mattered most.
This study demonstrated in beautiful fashion that chasing a number on a lab report is almost always a bad idea.
A much better plan would be to do very specific things to increase your sensitivity to androgens.
And that’s what we’re going to do right now.
Boosting Androgen Receptors (A quick caveat)
Before we move onto part two, I need say something to you men who are in poor physical condition.
If you currently don’t have the ability to lift heavy weights or run sprints, don’t worry about it too much.
Because as you’ll see below, you have 13 other options.
The best of which is time restricted eating, where you consume all your food in a tight eating window.
From 12 noon until 8pm, for example.
This easy to implement protocol kills two birds with one stone.
You will rapidly lose weight if you do it right, which will set you up to add in the exercise protocols later on.
And the daily 16 hours fasts will increase the sensitivity of your androgen receptors, and boost human growth hormone levels at the same time.
And this HGH will further prepare your body to jump on the weight training bandwagon later on.
And if you’re serious about lighting up your androgen receptors, you need to remember one thing…
Weight training is the best way to make it happen.
Now here’s part 2:
Increase Androgen Receptor Sensitivity & Density Part 2
What Are Androgen Receptors?
Hormones are chemical messengers that encourage specific activities in your system.
Your body depends on many of these messengers to carry out its processes, allowing us to develop, grow, reproduce, feel hunger and satiety, etc.
For hormones to work effectively, they must bind to receptors, allowing their messages to be carried out.
Androgen receptors are special receptors that activate when androgen hormones (male sex hormones) bind to them.
Testosterone is the most popular androgen hormone, but we also have androstenedione, androstenediol, and others.
Having an adequate androgen receptor density and sensitivity makes your body better able to use male sex hormones.
These are necessary for good health, sexual drive, reproduction, muscle growth, athleticism, and a lot more.
15 Ways to Boost Androgen Receptor Density & Sensitivity
1. Lift Weights
Stimulating your muscles through regular weight training is one of the most practical ways to boost androgen receptor density and sensitivity.
In one paper, researchers noted that electrical muscle stimulation rapidly increases androgen receptor density in rodents.
Such stimulation causes numerous muscle contractions, mimicking the exertion one might experience during resistance exercise.
Another study looked at hormonal changes in response to resistance exercise. The authors of the paper suggested that, in addition to acute hormonal elevations, weight training can influence steroid receptors that interact with sex hormones.
A different study from 2004 has similar findings.
2. Run Sprints (High-Intensity Interval Training)
Just as weight training leads to a significant muscle stimulus that affects a person’s physiology, so do intense activities like sprints.
Sprints and similar activities, better known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), have a considerable impact on short-term hormone levels.
The effects of intense activities on hormones, particularly testosterone and cortisol, are further studied in this paper.
Given the considerable hormonal impact of such activities, it’s clear that they can also influence androgen receptor density and sensitivity.
3. Practice Intermittent Fasting to Increase Androgen Receptor Sensitivity
Intermittent fasting is linked to a wide range of positive health effects.
These include improved insulin sensitivity, accelerated cellular repair, and human growth hormone (HGH) production.
Interestingly, intelligent fasting practices also have anabolic benefits, as unlikely as it may sound.
First, levels of androgen hormones can increase as a result of intermittent fasting, so long as you don’t starve yourself.
In other words, combining intermittent fasting with a mild calorie deficit can boost androgenic activity.
Plus, as mentioned above, fasting is associated with improved HGH production, which can provide distinct advantages: improved bone strength, physical development, fat oxidation, etc.
A simple approach is the 16:8 fast, where you fast for 16 hours daily and eat all of your calories within an 8-hour window.
For example, break your fast at noon, eat dinner at 7 to 8 PM and fast until noon the next day.
4. Consume Plenty of Protein to Increase Androgen Receptor Density
Most people associate protein with muscle growth, but the nutrient’s functions are far more nuanced.
Protein provides the building blocks (amino acids) your body needs to carry out many processes related to good health and well-being.
Within the context of androgen receptors and hormones, consuming enough protein can boost androgen activity.
Specifically, the nutrient can promote testosterone production and IGF-1 synthesis, both of which have anabolic properties.
The post-workout period is a fantastic time to ingest a lot of protein because your body is in a more sensitive state.
The nutrient stops catabolism (tissue breakdown), controls cortisol levels, and boosts testosterone production.
5. Eat Saturated Fat to Increase Androgen Receptor Sensitivity & Density
Dietary fats have a mixed reputation in the health community, but adequate consumption is necessary for good health.
In the context of androgen receptors, some research suggests that eating saturated fats can positively affect sensitivity and density.
In addition, one study suggests that consuming enough saturated fats is necessary for increasing your testosterone levels.
Specifically, data shows that replacing saturated fats with seemingly healthier options like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats results in a significant drop in circulating T levels.
Further, polyunsaturated fats might reduce androgen receptor sensitivity and density.
In contrast, saturated fats could improve androgen-binding strength, allowing for better interaction between hormones and the body.
6. Supplement With Carnitine to Boost Androgen Receptors
Carnitine is an organic compound synthesized from the essential amino acids lysine and methionine.
Your body can produce small amounts daily, but you can increase levels even more by consuming meat and fish.
Despite not being the best pre-workout product, supplementing with carnitine can still be helpful for people looking to optimize their hormones and fitness outcomes.
Carnitine can transport lipid molecules to the mitochondria, thus increasing androgen receptor sensitivity within specific cells.
In one study, researchers had participants take two grams of l-carnitine daily for three weeks or a placebo.
At the end of the trial, researchers noted that carnitine supplementation increased pre-exercise androgen receptor activity, potentially having a positive impact on recovery.
7. Consume Caffeine
We are all familiar with caffeine: the central nervous system stimulant that can boost energy levels, improve creativity, motivate us to work, study, and more.
But did you also know that the popular alkaloid can improve your physical performance, boost testosterone production, and potentially increase androgen receptor activity?
According to some rodent research, even low doses of caffeine can boost testosterone, DHT, and androgen receptor activity.
Through a series of processes, caffeine can promote lipid metabolism inside androgen receptors, causing them to bind to testosterone and similar hormones.
8. Get Full Body Sunlight Exposure (Vitamin D)
According to research, serum androgen concentrations are tightly linked to vitamin D levels, which explains why levels vary with the seasons.
The warmer months make it easier to get enough sun exposure, leading to higher vitamin D concentrations and higher androgen hormone levels.
In contrast, cold weather limits sun exposure, which affects vitamin D and androgens.
It appears that vitamin D plays a direct role in androgen synthesis in testicular cells.
In addition to increasing the risk of bone and muscle weakness, vitamin D deficiency can impair testosterone production.
Researchers debate whether vitamin D supplementation in deficient individuals would result in higher testosterone levels.
So far, the best approach is to expose enough skin to sunlight as frequently as possible. Most experts recommend midday exposure for best results.
That would mean getting into the sun around noon.
As far as duration, as little as 13 minutes of exposure several times per week can be enough, but that depends on skin tone and where you live.
9. Take Magnesium to Boost Androgen Sensitivity & Density
Magnesium is another essential nutrient to maintain healthy androgen levels and possibly promote androgen receptor sensitivity.
Research suggests that a higher magnesium intake can increase IGF-1 synthesis in older men and improve testosterone bioactivity.
According to one hypothesis, magnesium can balance catabolism (tissue breakdown) and anabolism (growth), which often get disrupted in older people.
Further research, which you can read about here, offers another potential explanation.
Data suggests that a higher magnesium concentration reduces the rate at which free testosterone binds to SHBG.
As a result, higher concentrations of the hormone remain free and able to interact with androgen receptors.
10. Eat Bone Broth to Enhance Androgen Receptors
Bone broth is an excellent source of two amino acids: glycine and glutamine, both of which serve numerous vital roles in the body.
For instance, glycine possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties, which means it is necessary for good health.
In addition to these effects, glycine and glutamine are critical components of androgen receptors.
Supplying your body with these building blocks will allow your body to produce and repair your androgen receptors to keep them operating at peak effeciency.
11. Supplement with Niacinamide
Niacinamide is a form of the essential vitamin B3, which is required for optimal hormonal health.
The vitamin suppresses cortisol production, impairs estrogen receptor function, and promotes androgen receptor activity.
One potential mechanism behind these effects is niacinamide’s ability to inhibit SIRT1––a protein-coding gene.
Thanks to its ability to modulate cortisol, the nutrient can also promote an increase in testosterone levels.
According to some sources, taking no more than 30 to 35 mg daily is best to prevent any potential side effects.
Further, thanks to its positive impact on androgen receptors, niacinamide may allow the body to use androgen hormones like testosterone and DHT more effectively.
12. Avoid Soy Products to Protect Androgen Receptors
If you’ve been following the literature on androgen hormones for a while, you’ve probably come across recommendations to avoid soy products.
The biggest reason for such suggestions is that soy is rich in isoflavones, which are naturally occurring compounds with phytoestrogen functions in the body.
More specifically, some of these compounds can increase estrogen levels in the body, contributing to the following:
- Water retention and a puffy face
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Fat gain
- Low libido and weak erections
- Mood swings and depression
- Gynecomastia (enlargement of breast tissue in men; man boobs)
On top of these potential effects, soy can suppress androgen receptor sensitivity and expression (source).
13. Avoid Ibuprofen (Use Aspirin Instead)
Ibuprofen is a common drug used to manage pain and reduce inflammation. Unfortunately, it could also affect androgen expression in men.
In one paper, researchers noted that ibuprofen could alter testicular physiology, leading to compensated hypogonadism.
In such a state, the body doesn’t produce enough testosterone.
According to the study’s findings, ibuprofen suppresses the function of endocrine cells in the testicles, which explains the reduced free testosterone in human subjects.
If you need pain relief, consider aspirin instead. Research doesn’t show adverse effects related to testosterone function.
It’s important to note that aspirin is classified as a blood thinner, so if you’re using blood thinning medication, talk with your doctor before dosing up.
14. Avoid Estrogen Mimics to Protect Androgen Receptors
Estrogen mimics are artificial hormones that act in a similar fashion to real estrogen in humans. These estrogens can be found in many everyday products.
Birth control pills can be a huge source of these compounds for women, but men are also not fully protected. A variety of products have varying amount of estrogen mimics.
Some examples include:
- Personal hygiene products
- Polycarbonate plastics (e.g., water bottles)
- Non-stick cookware
- Household cleaning products
- Anything with a strong chemical smell
In addition to limiting exposure to these estrogen mimic’s, you should consider extra support in the form of phytoandrogens––plant compounds with functions similar to testosterone.
Pine pollen is one option. It contains gibberellins, which are similar to testosterone.
15. Optimize Thyroid Function to Increase Androgen Receptors
Thyroid hormones are crucial for metabolic health, fat loss, protein synthesis, blood sugar control, cognition, overall health, and physical development.
Low thyroid production (hypothyroidism) is not good and contributes to a wide range of health issues, including:
- Downregulated metabolic rate
- Sensitivity to cold
- Extreme fatigue and muscle weakness
- Brain fog
In addition to these harmful effects, hypothyroidism can affect testosterone levels and androgen receptor activity.
T3, one of the two primary thyroid hormones, is necessary for improving androgen receptor function and downregulating estrogen receptor activity.
Good tactics for improving thyroid function include:
- Eating a high quality whole foods diet
- Monitoring for any deficiencies through blood tests; iodine, selenium, and zinc are all crucial
- Exercising regularly
- Employing stress-management tactics (meditation, spending time in nature, etc.)
- Red light and sauna therapy
Increase Androgen Receptor Sensitivity & Density Conclusion
My suggestion to you moving forward is to implement two of the protocols mentioned above, and go all in with them.
Weight training should be the foundation for most of you, but if you’re not physically able to do that right now, start with intermittent fasting.
As your situation improves, the motivation to begin muscle building exercises will come on naturally.
And once you begin, your androgen receptors will have the sensitivity and density to take you right where you want to go.